The Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics (CCJS) program at Statistics Canada is mandated to provide accurate, timely and relevant information to the justice community and the public on the nature and extent of crime and on the administration of criminal and civil justice in Canada.
The Evaluation and Professional Practices Division of Statistics Canada’s Audit and Evaluation Branch conducted an independent evaluation of the CCJS program. The evaluation was designed and conducted in accordance with the Treasury Board of Canada’s Policy on Evaluation (2009) and the related directives and standards.
According to the evaluation, the CCJS program responds to the continued need for criminal justice information. The program is often called upon by Senate and House of Commons committees to present information on justice and public safety to advance the work of government and the CCJS’s activities are aligned with the government’s most pressing needs and priorities for criminal justice and crime information.
The evaluation findings confirm that CCJS statistical information is accurate, interpretable, accessible, relevant and generally released according to established schedules.
The evaluation proposed two recommendations to improve the CCJS program.
While the evaluation found that the CCJS program delivers high-quality statistical data that are generally timely, the relevance of justice statistics could be increased by providing earlier indications of justice information changes or trends to facilitate program and policy decisions.
Recognizing that a complete analysis of justice statistics requires time to produce accurate results and that the production of justice statistical data occurs in a context of shared responsibilities, it is recommended that the CCJS explore with partners the possibility of producing more timely indicators in key selected areas to provide earlier indications of issues and trends.
CCJS management agrees with the statement with respect to hate crime.
The repeated requests from central agencies to get more data on hate crime since the beginning of the year, combined with the recent release on June 13, 2015, of hate crime data, have brought public attention to the need to produce more timely indicators of hate crime. The CCJS recognizes this need. The CCJS has addressed the issue with police forces to sensitize them to the need to devote resources to the certification and sign-off of hate crime data to improve the timeliness of hate crime data production.
This issue was brought to the attention of the members of the Police Information and Statistics Committee (POLIS) at their last meeting on April 5, 2017, and to the attention of the Liaison Officers Committee Federal/ Provincial/Territorial members (LOC FPT) at the last Liaison Officers Committee of the National Justice Statistics Initiative (LOCNJSI) meeting on May 17 and 18.
The matter of producing more timely indicators has been raised only for hate crime thus far. The timeliness of other indicators pertaining to other areas of the criminal justice system has never been officially raised. Other indicators are generally produced in a period of less than a year, which compares favourably with other social statistics programs based on administrative data.
Currently, academia is not part of the formal governance of the CCJS program. Researchers are informed about CCJS data in Research Data Centres (RDCs) through notifications from RDCs sent to distribution lists at local universities. It is unclear to what extent that information is communicated effectively to targeted faculty and students. Academic researchers are key CCJS data users whose needs are not fully considered given their limited participation in decision making.
Recognizing the value added of the contribution of researchers to CCJS analytical products, it is recommended that the CCJS program
- establish an appropriate mechanism through which academia can be part of formal consultations
- explore communication alternatives to ensure the awareness of CCJS data among the research/academia community.
The CCJS agrees to increase the involvement of academics in some areas of data development. It should be noted that academics are considered and consulted in the redesign phase of various surveys. Some of the proposed activities are already in motion.